FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Lee County; Traveling with:
2D18-914 & 2D18-915 Bruce E. Kyle, Judge.
L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Richard Sanders,
Assistant Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellant.
Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Jeffrey H. Siegal,
Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Appellee.
Carlo Valero seeks review of his judgment and sentence for
driving on a suspended license as a habitual traffic
offender. He argues that the trial court erred in denying his
motion to suppress because the deputy who stopped his vehicle
did not have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
However, the deputy had a reasonable basis to conclude that
Valero was driving on a suspended license based on two recent
arrests of Valero for the same offense. Accordingly, we
suppression hearing, Deputy Pierson testified that he stopped
Valero's vehicle on October 31, 2017, based on his
suspicion that Valero was driving with a suspended license.
Deputy Pierson explained that he had stopped Valero for
traffic infractions two times within the past eleven months:
December 25, 2016, and July 19, 2017. On both dates, the stop
resulted in the deputy arresting Valero for driving on a
suspended license as a habitual traffic offender.
argued that the deputy's information was stale because
the deputy had not been in contact with Valero for over three
months at the time of the latest stop. The trial court
rejected this argument based on a finding that the original
suspension would have been for five years and each of the
subsequent arrests could have resulted in additional
five-year suspensions. The court concluded that Deputy
Pierson had a reasonable suspicion that Valero's license
was still suspended at the time of the latest stop.
reviewing a ruling on a motion to suppress, appellate courts
must accord a presumption of correctness to the trial
court's ruling on the facts. Moody v. State, 842
So.2d 754, 758 (Fla. 2003). However, the question of whether
an officer has reasonable suspicion of criminal activity is a
mixed question of law and fact that must be independently
suspicion is a less demanding standard than probable cause in
that reasonable suspicion can arise from information that is
less reliable than that required to show probable
cause." Carter v. State, 120 So.3d 207, 209
(Fla. 5th DCA 2013). However, officers may not act "on a
hunch or mere suspicion" of illegal activity.
Moody, 842 So.2d at 758. And it is possible for
facts that provide a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity
to become stale due to the passage of time. Id. at
757. In determining the issue of staleness, courts consider
the totality of the circumstances. Id. at 759.
is no bright-line rule for determining how long of a time
lapse will make an officer's knowledge that a defendant
is driving with a suspended license stale. Id. at
758. The Florida Supreme Court has concluded that a
one-to-three-year lapse made the information stale. See
id. And the district courts have held that a lapse of
four to five weeks did not. See Stone v. State, 856
So.2d 1109, 1112 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003); State v.
Leyva, 599 So.2d 691, 693 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992). There do
not appear to be any Florida cases addressing lapses between
those two time periods.
several federal and out-of-state courts have concluded that
lapses of between three-and-a-half and five months did not
make an officer's information stale. See United
States v. Woods, 385 Fed.Appx. 914, 917 (11th Cir. 2010)
(unpublished opinion); United States v. Pierre, 484
F.3d 75, 84 (1st Cir. 2007); Anderson v. State, 592
S.E.2d 910, 913 (Ga.Ct.App. 2004); State v.
Halvorson, 997 P.2d 751, 753 (Mont. 2000); Shiflett
v. Commonwealth, 622 S.E.2d 758, 761 (Va. Ct. App.
2005). In three of these cases, the appellate courts'
determination of staleness involved consideration of not only
the amount of the time lapse but whether and to what extent
the defendant's license could have been restored in the
meantime. See Woods, 385 Fed.Appx. at 917;
Anderson, 592 S.E.2d at 912-13; Shiflett,
622 S.E.2d at 761.
Anderson for example, the Court of Appeals of
Georgia upheld a November 2002 stop of a defendant when there
was a lapse of four months between the last time the deputy
confirmed that the defendant's license was suspended and
the time of the stop. 592 S.E.2d at 913. The deputy had
previously seen the defendant driving with a suspended
license in 2001. Id. at 911. In the summer of 2002,
the deputy confirmed the defendant's license was still
suspended. Four months later, in November 2002, the deputy
pulled the defendant over for driving without a valid
license. Id. at 912. The defendant produced a
license during the stop that revealed that it had just been
reinstated two weeks earlier.
considering whether the deputy's knowledge of the
defendant's license suspension was stale, the appellate
court explained that the applicable statute provided for a
license suspension of between six months and five years
depending upon the number of previous convictions. In
addition, a defendant's license did not automatically get
reinstated after expiration of the suspension period.
Instead, the ...